Fourth Grade Unit 2

Literature Setting – Weather or Not

Enduring Understanding:  Where we live, the geography of our area, relates to the seasons and weather we experience daily.  Our geography is also reflected in written texts about our environment.        

Focus Standards:

Questioning Stems: Narrative (literature) and informational texts questioning stems based on questions  WITHIN, BEYOND, and ABOUT  the texts, to be used throughout the unit.

Student “I Can” Statements:

  1. “I Can” read and discuss a variety of narrative and informational texts (e.g, about seasons and weather).
  1. As a class, chart the narrative categories listed below as stories and poems are read. As the chart is filled in, use the information to talk about what we learn from narrative text. This activity will assist students as they begin their narrative writing for this unit.  Use the narrative text structure chart and the story map graphic organizer as needed.  Have students write a (Narrative) piece including:
  1. As a class, chart the informational categories listed below as books and poetry are read. As the chart is filled in discuss informational text structures and features. Students will respond through journal writing and share their thoughts with a partner as each section of the chart is completed.
  1. Read and discuss Heat Wave by Helen Ketterman Houghton Mifflin in the 4th Grade Reading theme 3 selection 3.  Discuss how Utah has extremes in weather from hot summer days to cold winter blizzards.  Compare and contrast the seasons in Utah using this four Items compare/contrast chart. Notice how the seasons overlap. Students will share through a (Opinion) writing piece, choosing their favorite season in Utah and explaining WHY with details and facts about the weather and explaining their preferences.
  2. Using Snowflake Bentley as a Framing Text for Multigenre Writing (ReadWriteThink)Note: In this lesson, students examine and sort multiple texts about snow, discuss the multiple genres represented in the Snowflake Bentley text, and develop a working definition of the term multi-genre.  This is done in shared reading with teacher scaffolded support. Using that definition, they then work in pairs or small groups to create their own multi-genre piece about winter using the Multi-genre Mapper interactive (explained in the link) and related resources.
  3. Exploring Cause and Effect Using Expository Texts About Natural Disasters (ReadWriteThink) Note: Informational texts are a key component of literacy, but often do not get introduced to students until the later grades. This lesson helps third- through fifth-grade students explore the nature and structure of informational texts that focus on cause and effect.
  4. Literature as a Jumping Off Point for Nonfiction Inquiry (ReadWriteThink)Note: This lesson uses text sets and collections of multiple text genres with a single focus to facilitate student inquiry inspired by a fiction book they have read.
  5. Other books to sue for this unit:  ( Literature A 1) & (Informational Texts B 1)

  1. “I Can” find similarities and differences in story settings, and explaln how the setting impacts a story.
  1. Following a class discussion of weather and climate, students will journal their thoughts and feelings about the positive and negative effects of weather on real life, and on life in literature.  Explicitly teach students that  weather is an important part of the settings in narrative texts.  As you read a variety of narrative texts, identify the weather and or seasons that are part of the settings.  Record these on a chart by the title of the book.  Analyze the number of books that describe it adequately and those that do not.  (Literature A 1)

      2.   Use Picture Books to Teach Setting Development in Writing Workshop (ReadWriteThink)

Students work as a class to chart the use of the three elements of setting (place, time, environment) in the story, Using specific words and examples from the text, students then discuss the techniques that the book’s author used to develop the setting. They will make observations and draw conclusions about how authors make the setting they write about vivid and believable.  Harvest the rich descriptive words they use.  Make a chart of these words that students will use in their writing.

  1. “I Can” find similarities and differences, and causes and consequences, of weather.

  1. What impact does weather have on stories such as The Long Winter  by Laura Ingalls Wilder, Time to Wonder by Robert McCloskey, or Hurricane by Jonathan London?  After reading and recording information about these texts, divide students into small groups and have them work together to discuss the impact the weather has in each book.  Identify similarities and differences.  Use the resources  below to help students understand the importance of “setting” in their own writing. Review “narrative” components as the students begin to write about a “weather” experience they have had.
  1. Weather Channel for Kids is a good source for studying the weather in Utah and in the World. This is a wonderful science connection to be developed in depth.  Read and write about all aspects of weather, it’s effects on the lives of people and animals in Utah and the effects on rocks and earth formations.  Also, set up a school or class weather station of at least weather recording charts.  After students have recorded how many days are sunny, windy, rainy, snowy, cloudy, foggy, smoggy, etc., have them write a report detailing what the weather has been been in Utah.  Have them record the amount of snow received in a winter at the school, at their homes, and in the canyons.  Research snow fall totals for previous years and averages for comparing and contrasting the year they are recording data for.  In pairs or small groups have them write an (Informative/Explanatory) piece about their findings.  Share their reports with other classes in the school.
  2. Teaching Setting from Brain Pop  good lessons for teachers or take home ideas for parents.
  3. Additional suggested books for this unit:  (Literature A 1)


  1. “I Can” write a variety of responses to stories and poems 

  1. After studying meteorology and weather (specifically clouds) in informational texts, read the poems "Clouds" by Christina Rosetti and "Fog" by Carl Sandburg. Write what they visualize from the poems or what the clouds made them feel.
  1. After studying Utah weather patterns in the previous objective, have students write a short weather poems using any of the poem formats they choose.  Remind them of the types they have been using this year and previous years:  ABC Poems,  Acrostic Poems, Haiku Poems, Odes, and Rhyming Poems.  Their poems can also be written comparing Weather from the poems and Utah weather.
  2. During Shared Reading, teacher and students will read from Houghton/Mifflin (2001) Theme 6 pg. 706         Rain Sayings, an informational article from Faces Magazine.  Discuss the explanations of the sayings and how they relate to things other than the weather.  Have students write an experience in their life that would relate to one of the sayings. (Narrative).  

Social Studies Connection:  One of the weather sayings is about Seagulls!  At this point, expand the unit to the Utah State Bird - The Seagull!  Research how the seagull became the state bird.  Have students draw pictures of seagulls and write an (Explanatory/Informative) piece explaining why the Seagull is the Utah State Bird.  Also, expand this study to the other Utah State Symbols. Explicitly teach meanings and what the symbols represent.

  1. Share the book It Figures!: Fun Figures of Speech  by Marvin Terban. As a class, talk about the sections on  similes and metaphors found in this text. Record their findings on a chart.  Use Post-It notes to mark these parts of speech on the chart. Continue the T-Chart started in the first unit. These ideas will help the students as they compose their poetry pieces. Resources for teaching similes and metaphors.


  1. “I Can” explain how factual knowledge of weather increases appreciation of literature about weather.
  1. How is reading a book similar to, and different from, predicting the weather? Chart the similarities and differences. Look at the variety of maps available in books such as Let's Investigate Marvelously Meaningful Maps by Madelyn Wood Carlisle.
  2. View  How To Read Weather Maps (Discovery Channel, Discovery Education). With teacher assistance, students will view current weather maps on the Internet. They will complete a summarizing paragraph concerning today’s weather.
  3. During an interactive read aloud share Night of the Twister by Ivy Ruckman .  Discuss with the students the intensity of the story, including descriptive words the author has used to make the story so realistic.  “Harvest” the descriptive words and record them on a chart.  Going back to paragraphs on weather they have written, have revise them by adding more colorful descriptive words you have found about weather.  

  1. I can” research a weather phenomenon and write a question and answer (Q&A) report that includes audio and/or visual aids.
  1. Using the resources below, students may complete a research project or write a weather forecast using digital tools.  Provide appropriate amounts of explicit instruction about the digital tools and well as how to use them to create the projects they choose.
  1. Read a variety of informational texts, in print and online, about a specific season in a geographical region of  choice. Explore the weather-related and other natural disasters that your geographical area is prone to; then review your school's emergency procedures with students.  Have students prepare a power point report on their research.  Again, provide adequate explicit instruction or the use of this digital tool.


  1.   “I Can” recite poetry for classmates.

  1. Choose one of the poems from this unit, such as “Dust of Snow” by Robert Frost, to read and discuss with a partner. As a pair recite the poem for your classmates in small groups.  Review with the students, speaking and reading fluency (prosody).
  1. Another option for a poem to memorize and perform is>  Weather: Poems for All Seasons by Lee Bennett Hopkins  Have students memorize a poem of their choice and recite to the class or in small groups.

  1. I Can” define relationships between weather words
  1. As an individual in a word bank and as a class on a word wall, keep a record of new words learned in this unit (i.e., meteorology, prediction, forecast, catastrophic, catastrophe, etc.). Encourage students to incorporate these weather words into their writing pieces.
  2. With a partner students will sort weather words into categories.  Through writing, students will defend their choice of category!  Listed below are additional resources for word study activities.
  1. Weather Detectives: Questioning the Fact and Folklore of Weather Sayings (ReadWriteThinkº

        Note: This lesson explores the truth and reliability of weather-related sayings such as, “Mare’s tails and mackerel scales make tall ships take in their sails”.   Other idioms and similes that can be explored are, “it’s raining cats and dogs”, “red sky in the morning sailors take warning, red skies at night, sailors delight”, “the sun was shining like a spotlight on my face”, “the snow is a white blanket covering the street”, “the tornado sounds like a freight train”, etc.  As a class make a chart with these sayings and what they are referring to as a meaning.  Have student write their own similes and idiom sayings about the weather. (Narrative)


  1. “I Can” participate in group discussions about seasons, weather, and literature written about them.
  1. Class Discussion/Reflective Essay As a class, summarize what was learned in this unit as it relates to the essential question (“How does setting impact a story?”). I show I know when and how to ask questions, when and how to answer questions, allowing all participants the opportunity to speaking, and knowing how to take turns and converse appropriately.
  2. Class Discussion / Art Connection Select several works of art in which the subject’s choice of clothing clearly shows the weather being represented. Have students discuss how viewing the clothing helps us understand what the weather might be like in the work of art.  Identify several works in which color plays a key role in the representation of the weather.  Students will discuss color choices and their relationship to         the weather being shown.
  3. Art with a weather focus
  1. Art Appreciation-Look at how weather is portrayed in the various art selections. What adjectives would you  use to describe the weather?  Are there any similes, metaphors, or figurative language that you think work best?